Today began with a balcony view of the valleys. The fresh mountain air added to the feel. Ah, St. David’s Day. I could almost smell the daffodils and hear the close harmony singing of Men of Harlech behind an Eddie Butler voiceover reverberating from beyond the early morning hillside shadow.
I’d earmarked the venue for my Friday fix as soon as I landed in Queenstown last weekend. The Ferg Bakery, the off shoot of the celebrated Ferg Burger on Shotover Street. I’ve deliberately stayed away from the renowned burger joint out of deference to Lucky Paul’s arrival in New Zealand tomorrow. The bakery is still very much on limits however.

En route to meet Charlie, Greg and Jackie before setting off to day three of England’s warm up against the New Zealand XI, I popped into the junior partner of the Ferg fast food empire for a spot of breakfast. A homely looking establishment bedecked in bakery brown, beige and cream, packed to the rafters with breads, cakes, pies and pastries. The traditional and the fanciful, staffed by un-typically Kiwi yet apparently, typically non-committal Queenstownian staff, their faces half lit with insincerity.

“We’re reasonably pleased to see you, we’re absolutely delighted your stomaching the local tourist-taxing price hike. Please make your purchase and leave so we can get the next mug. Have a nice day. Please come back and spend more money soon.”

“Are you still here sir?”

In keeping with the date, I decided to swap the Kiwi Classic for something more, um, Welsh. There’s Lamb Shank pie for you boyo, isn’t it?
I thought the last Glamorgan intoned sentence but declined to utter it out loud, lest it throw the pretty North American server completely off track and cause her to malfunction.

An imprint of the South Island was stamped on the straw coloured pie top. Such typical Queenstownian showmanship, no wonder New Zealanders hold this part of their country in something approaching suspicion.
The first bite released great swathes of delicious rosemary tinted flavours on to my taste buds. The next two follow up bites produced more of the same. A flood of unstoppable Burnt Siena gravy carrying diced vegetables in its wake, the wispy, crispy puff pastry completely futile as a flood barrier.
All very nice, but where’s Larry? Three morsels from the end I finally hit upon the succulent, overnight braised lamb the description boasts of.
And, again, it’s all very nice. There’s, sadly, nowhere near enough of it.

Today’s pie does rather sum Queenstown up.
It’s a case of wherever you turn, style comfortably beats substance. Don’t misinterpret me, it is beautiful here, it really is. It’s just a little galling from the consumer’s point of view to see the local trades and industries cashing in on the town and surrounding area’s appeal.

Enough carping and moaning from me though. Maybe today’s date is rubbing off on me a little. I’ll be laughing at Max Boyce gags and drinking Brains Bitter next.

Hapus af davids dydd pawb.

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